You Are Not A Victim

Executing a project in Revit can be a scary thing for a PM. To someone who isn't familiar with the software, it can seem like an inscrutable black box, full of chaotic magic and unintuitive processes.

It feels, I imagine, like a loss of control. The PM is on the outside, hoping against hope that the Revit users can pull off what needs to be done, and not having much ability to jump in there and fix things personally, or even evaluate if the team is on the right track. 

Many PM's check their egos and defer to the technical expertise of the Revit nerds. They ask questions about the capabilities of the software and seek advice for how to successfully deliver a project. This is good leadership, of course, the mark of an individual humble enough to know the limits of her knowledge and trust the team. 

There's a tricky balance to this, best explained by a strand of complaints I get from a lot of PM's and Principals from a number of companies:

"The users put way too much detail into the model. All our Revit projects blow their budgets in DD because everyone spends way too much time modeling to a level of detail that isn't appropriate!"

My answer: "Did you explicitly tell them how detailed you wanted the model?" It is the PM's job to communicate her intent to the team, and then to make sure they execute it. There is nothing about Revit that forces users to model in excessive detail too early (except maybe that it's kind of fun).

At the beginning of a phase, the PM should sit all the users down, explain how detailed the model should be, how detailed it should not be, make sure everyone gets it, and then check in frequently. This is normal stuff we've done for decades, Revit doesn't change the fact that the PM is the boss and sets the rules. We just added another spatial dimension.

Another complaint: "The users just get a new project and start modeling away. I don't see any sheets until two days before the deadline, and they look like crap! The users forget to look at the sheets until it's too late."

My response: "Why did you let them not print any sheets until two days before the deadline? Did you ask them to and they told you to bugger off?" 

There is nothing about Revit that prevents anyone from printing the full set from day one. In fact, that's my recommended best practice: plot a set immediately after model setup, and then every week thereafter. The sheets should never look bad. "Mostly empty" is okay if it's early, but "shitty" is not okay at any point in the life of a project.

I think the dynamic at work here is that the PM's lack of knowledge of how Revit works puts them in a reactive, rather than a proactive, stance. It's hard to shift between calling the shots and asking what the hell Revit uses if it doesn't have Layers. (Are Worksets just Layers? What do you mean sort of but not really??)

Revit might be a black box to you, but there is never a good reason for the sheets to look bad, or for the team to blow the budget fussing with details of the model that are going to change anyway. If your Revit users start giving you lip about 'that's just how the software works', they're not very good. Find (or train) better users.